News / Arts & Entertainment

Elaborate Wigs Top Off Broadway’s Winning Looks

Neil Patrick Harris in a scene from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," at the Belasco Theatre in New York. (AP)
Neil Patrick Harris in a scene from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," at the Belasco Theatre in New York. (AP)
At New York theaters up and down Broadway, in dramas and comedies and musicals, chances are a lot of the actors are wearing wigs. But when the 68th Annual Tony Awards were presented in a ceremony at Radio City Music Hall Sunday night, the artists who create those wigs were not on the list of honorees.
 
But they are an essential part of theater craft.
 
The problem with being a good wig designer, according to Jason P. Hayes, wig designer for Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-nominated play, "Casa Valentina,"  is "if you do your job properly, no one knows that any of your work is on the stage!"
 
"I don’t think people realize that half of the people they’re looking at are wearing a wig," Hayes said. "And that’s where a lot of that labor and that love and that work goes unnoticed, because if you do it properly, no one knows … that you were ever in the building."
 
Wigs make the difference
 
Wigs play a central role in "Casa Valentina." The drama is based on a real resort in New York's Catskills area that in the 1960s catered to heterosexual men who enjoyed dressing as women.
 
Best-Kept Secret Tops Off Broadway’s Winning Looks
Best-Kept Secret Tops Off Broadway’s Winning Looksi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Reed Birney, who was nominated for a Tony as Charlotte, said the detailed wig Hayes created helps him as an actor.
 
"It really is a crucial aspect of the performance, this wig, especially for me," Birney said. "Your self-image suddenly changes. I can’t see myself, but I see myself in the mirror and I know I’ve got this honey-colored hair and a big swoop and, uh, it really does affect the way you move through space."
 
From left, Ingrid Craigie, Sarah Greene, Daniel Radcliffe and Pat Shortt appear at the opening night curtain call of "The Cripple of Inishmaan" on April 20, 2014, in New York.From left, Ingrid Craigie, Sarah Greene, Daniel Radcliffe and Pat Shortt appear at the opening night curtain call of "The Cripple of Inishmaan" on April 20, 2014, in New York.
Tony-nominated actress Sarah Greene said the wig she wears in "The Cripple of Inishmaan" completes her character: Helen, a volatile teenager on a remote Irish island in the 1930s.

Initially, the brunette actress resisted it.
 
"When they came with the red wig, I was like, 'Oh no!  I want my own hair.'  And yet, the minute I put it on, it was just like, 'Oh no - the bold Helen is here!' "
 
It took Jason P. Hayes almost a week to weave thousands of strands of human hair into just this one wig for the character of Charlotte in Casa Valentina. (J. Lunden/VOA)It took Jason P. Hayes almost a week to weave thousands of strands of human hair into just this one wig for the character of Charlotte in Casa Valentina. (J. Lunden/VOA)
x
It took Jason P. Hayes almost a week to weave thousands of strands of human hair into just this one wig for the character of Charlotte in Casa Valentina. (J. Lunden/VOA)
It took Jason P. Hayes almost a week to weave thousands of strands of human hair into just this one wig for the character of Charlotte in Casa Valentina. (J. Lunden/VOA)

Substance as important as style
 
The wigs' styling is important, but so is the stuff they’re made of, said Charles LaPointe, who made the hairpieces for the Tony-winning musical, "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder."

LaPointe used real human hair, which he and a staff of 23 painstakingly wove into the elaborate Edwardian wigs used in the show.

"We have distributors all over the place," he explained. "We get some from London; that’s like fine Caucasian hair, and then we get Indian hair from Bali and then we get Asian hair from the dime store around the corner."
 
Perhaps the most outrageous wigs on Broadway right now sit atop Tony winner Neil Patrick Harris’ head in the gender-bending and Tony award-winning revival of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

Mike Potter designed all eight of Hedwig’s hairpieces and said Harris wouldn’t be Hedwig without wigs.
 
"They’re really a huge integral part of the character," Potter said. "I mean, 'wig' is in her name!"
 
The actor showed off those locks on the Tony Awards broadcast.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Robb from: Chelsea
June 11, 2014 7:47 AM
Hey Jeff - Nice article! Best Tonys ever, in my humble opinion!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.